(This is a history of the son of Edmond and Jane Taylor Nelson. He tells about his family life so it gives a glimpse of Edmond and Jane's time in Nauvoo, etc.)
THOMAS BILLINGTON NELSON
This record was found among Thomas’ things, penciled in a little old
now in the possession of his son, Orson Nelson of Thatcher, Arizona.
I, Thomas Billington Nelson, was born May 9, 1835 in Jefferson County, Illinois of goodly parents. My father’s name is Edmond Nelson, my mother’s name, Jane Taylor Nelson. They were both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They lived and died faithful to the gospel.
I was baptized when eight years old by the great prophet, Joseph Smith, in the Mississippi River. I well remember the prophet and his brother, Hyrum. I have heard them preach a great many times and well remember the trying scenes of Nauvoo.
I saw both of these great men after they were killed and brought home, and passed with my parents through the room where they lay. I well remember the cries and prayers offered unto the Almighty God by many good mothers for the protection of their husbands and loved ones at home from the mob who was prowling the country to destroy the Saints. I saw the prophet meet officers who were hunting him but did not know him.
We will leave Nauvoo to the Iowa side of the river, camped there one week with hundreds of Saints. When we started I, though a small boy but very quick and handy on foot, assisted all I could in putting the yokes on the cows and steers. We moved on with many of the Saints. Away we go through mud, water, rain, sleet, grass, brush, and everything else, barefooted, partly clad and not much to eat. When night would come, the men would build up log fires. After supper was over the Saints would sing and dance when the camp was on dry, solid ground. There was plenty of music and good singers.
In this way we slowly make our way to Mount Pisgah. There my father put in a good crop of corn. In all this travel and labor I took an active part, though small, I was stout, active and willing.
My father left Mount Pisgah in the spring of April 1850 for Salt Lake with a good outfit. We all enjoyed the travel with the Saints across the plains to Salt Lake. I was then in my fourteenth year. Thomas Johnson was my captain. I stood guard twice a week for my father was sick a bigger part of the time; so my brother, William and myself stood guard all across the plains. But we had plenty of good men and good women and lots of young folks and plenty of good singers, plenty of music and lots of preaching, lots of good singing and praying. We entered Salt Lake a happy band of Saints. I hired out in Salt Lake for three months. I matured to manhood at an early age, being stout, active and thought I could stand as much hard work and riding as any man. This brought me into a good many Indian scrapes which was to common in the fifties and sixties. I am now in my eighteenth year. On March 27, 1853 I was married to Mary Catherine Welker, age 21 who was well-qualified for a housekeeper and a mother, who in due time presented me with eleven children, six sons and five daughters.
In 1862 I organized the first Martial Band of Cache Valley. In 1864 I moved to Bloomington, Bear Lake, [Idaho] also organized the first band there.
I was well acquainted with Charles Chick; heard Moses Thatcher preach his funeral sermon and saw his remains placed in the earth.
On June 2, 1867 I was married to Dortha Christina Sorenson who also honored me with nine children, two boys and seven girls. She was good mother.
In 1878 I worked at the Logan Temple mill as a common hand for two months. In the spring of the next year, April the first I went to the mill again, had charge of the timber business for five months.
I had my share of the persecution heaped on the Saints in Bear Lake County. I was hunted for four years, my farm house was searched more than one hundred times, but I was not found. I ran many close calls but was delivered from their hands. I stayed in a room for days, never saw daylight only through a blinded window. In 1890 I came to Arizona.
In 1892 I was ordained a High Priest and set apart as first counselor to Bishop Alma N. Brucy of Bryce Ward, St. Joseph stake of Zion by John Henry Smith. I labored in that position until November 3, 1902. I was again appointed .
In the priesthood, I was ordained a deacon when twelve years old and came up in the proper order to High Priest.
We have twenty children, sixteen living. All in the church; eighty-one grandchildren, twenty great-grandchildren.
Mary Catherine Welker Nelson is seventy years old, Dorothy Christina Nelson is fifty-six years old. All living in good faith in the gospel.
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